Growing fashion consciousness in small towns of India is driving many entrepreneurs and big brands to these towns. J P Shukla, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of 1-India Family Mart, has worked for several large retailers including a hypermarket and Future Group’s Fashion Big Bazaar. He set up 1-India Family Mart in 2013. The retail chain now operates around 90 stores and has a turnover of Rs 420 crore. Riding on demand in smaller towns of India, Shukla plans to open around 40-60 stores this year in Purnia (Bihar), Mahoba (Uttar Pradesh) and Shivsagar (Assam), among others. He started out with Ghazipur and Fatehpur in UP and now has stores in remote Assam towns such as Udalguri, Nagaon and Tinsukia.
Small towns lure big retailers
Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail (ABFRL), is also addressing small town shoppers through its value fashion chain Style Up, launched last year. The retail chain, which operates 16 stores across Deoria and Robertsganj in UP, Bhabua, Begusarai, Lakhisarai and Gopalganj in Bihar, hopes to expand by 10-12 stores this year. With this retail chain, Aditya Fashion joins the ranks of value fashion retailers–both regional and national–like V-Mart and Vishal Mega Mart, among others, to cater to small cities.
These value chains are catering to the needs of the thrifty small-town consumers who seek latest fashion at lower price points. They offerfast fashion at commodity pricing. Their fast fashion model is designed to address this aspiration while keeping prices in check.
Growing internet penetration and subsequent exposure to digital media such as YouTube and Instagram, as well as social media influencers, have led to growing fashion awareness amongst consumer in small towns. These consumers also travel a lot, which leads to bigger exposure. Much like their big city counterparts, consumers in small town yearn to look good and be upto date with fashion.